How to Raise Your B Corp Assessment Score

Ryan Honeyman | Wednesday November 5th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is a weekly series of excerpts from the new book “The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, October 13, 2014). Click here to read the rest of the excerpts.

downloadBy Ryan Honeyman

Our series continues with the next installment of a six-week, turbocharged Quick Start Guide to becoming a Certified B Corporation.

Week one focused on getting a baseline assessment of your social and environmental performance, week two focused on motivating and engaging your team, and week three was about creating an action plan for B Corp certification.

Week Four: Implement your improvements

Time estimate: One to five hours

OBJECTIVE: The objective during week four is for you and your team to dig in and start completing the items on your action plan.

END RESULT: An increase in your B Impact Assessment score.

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DOE Invests $15 Million in Solar PV-Energy Storage Grid Integration

| Wednesday November 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments

doe eere solar_0Energy flows all around us, but it’s not very beneficial unless it’s harnessed, concentrated and distributed in a form useful to those who need it. That’s one of the factors that has made distributed solar energy generation increasingly attractive. More powerful and cheaper than ever, photovoltaic (PV) panels are producing ever-greater amounts of pollution-free energy on-site for homes, businesses, government and public facilities in developing and developed countries the world over.

Utility-scale generation accounts for the bulk of installed solar power  capacity in the U.S. The lack of transmission and distribution lines has constrained growth. Building those power lines also adds significantly to the time and cost of bringing new utility-scale solar power assets online. The converse is also true. Connecting rapidly growing residential and commercial solar energy systems to the power grid can yield substantial benefits all around – to power distribution companies as well as consumers and “prosumers.”

Yet, for a variety of reasons – including strong opposition on the part of well-entrenched power utilities – connecting distributed, on-site solar energy systems to the grid has proven to be a significant hurdle to wider-scale deployment and use.

Aiming to speed things up, the Department of Energy on Oct. 29 announced it is making $15 million available to promote integration of distributed, on-site solar energy systems into the U.S. electricity grid. Solar energy growth continues to shatter records, DOE notes in a press release, “with more solar power installed in the U.S. in the last 18 months than in 30 years prior.” 

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SB London: The Brewer, the Banker and the Sustainable Shoemaker

3p Conferences
| Wednesday November 5th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Aly Khalifa, founder of Lyf Shoes: do we know better than what we're doing now?

Aly Khalifa, founder of Lyf Shoes: Do we know better than what we’re doing now?

By Felicity Carus

Today was not so much the march of the change-makers, but the march of the brewer, the banker and the sustainable shoemaker at Sustainable Brands London 2014.

The brewer

Michael Dickstein, director of global sustainable development at Heineken International, showed the power of music in the company’s ‘Dance More, Drink Less’ responsible drinking campaign. But not all brands have access to Armin Van Buuren to encourage customers to “drink slow.”

He then showed a teaser for next year’s campaign that seemed to set a target of 100 percent sustainably sourced barley and hops by 2020. That’s a long time to wait for a green beer.

The banker

Financial service companies are thin on the ground at Sustainable Brands London. But all the financial wrongdoing of the banking sector was left to be represented by David Wheldon of Barclays, who surely has the most interesting job title in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) space: head of brand, reputation and citizenship.

Jo Confino, executive editor at the Guardian, gave Wheldon a tough welcome: “Let’s be honest about this, the Bank of England produced a new report saying that wrongdoing in the banking industry was still embedded in the culture. Barclays has put aside another £500 million for its rigging and wrongdoing and generally appalling behaviour being one of the institutions that has driven us a society to the point of bankruptcy.”

“Jo’s introduction, let’s face it, is absolutely right. For around 30 years, the financial services industry has made a woeful mistake of not putting the people that it serves at the center of what it does. The consequence of that is a lot of things that need fixing,” said Wheldon in reply.

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Why Would a Company Fund STEM Skills Development?

3p Contributor | Wednesday November 5th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: Phil Preston recently sat down with Milinda Martin of Time Warner Cable to discuss the company’s Connect a Million Minds program. This is the second post reflecting this conversation. In case you missed it, you can read the first post here.

TWC at Maker Faire

By Phil Preston

From the business perspective, what motivated Time Warner Cable to invest heavily in STEM skill development through their Connect a Million Minds program? I asked their VP of Community Investment, Milinda Martin, how it fits in with the business agenda.

Phil Preston: I realize the timeframes are long, but have you developed any specific business metrics to measure the benefits of this initiative?

Milinda Martin: We have held three customer and non-customer studies over the course of our five-year commitment: in year zero (baseline), halfway through and just recently, as we near the end of the official commitment. Note that we are continuing our commitment: We now call it “one million and counting” because we are still not where we need to be regarding youth and STEM.

Those studies have shown, emphatically, that both our customers and the general population have a better impression of TWC as a result of Connect a Million Minds. And the greater the engagement with our Connect a Million Minds platform, the greater the individuals’ perception of our company. Our first wave of middle-schoolers are just now graduating from high-school, so it is too early to say if we are seeing results in terms of hiring/candidate skills, but we know that, in aggregate, we have engaged more than 5 million youths in hands-on STEM activities at some point. This figure includes all of the youths engaged through our nonprofit partners because not all go through the formal process of taking the Connect a Million Minds pledge.

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Top 5 Reasons Why Online Petitions are Crucial to Your Advocacy Success

3p Contributor | Wednesday November 5th, 2014 | 0 Comments

1-Online_Petition_Success By Randy Paynter

With the news saturated with the crisis in West Africa, increasingly dire warnings about our warming planet and attacks on women’s rights, I often worry about the world I’m leaving behind for my children. It makes me want to do something about it.

I’m not the only one. Over the years, I’ve seen millions of people step up and take action about these issues and more. Hundreds of thousands have demanded a crackdown on the illegal ivory trade. Thousands more appealed better access to health care. This year, more than 22,000 people came together to save a front yard lending library started by a 9-year-old boy in Kansas.

So, why haven’t you heard stories about marches on the Capitol steps or protests at state houses? Because these campaigns raised awareness in a modern way: online. By organizing through the Web, activists sign petitions sent directly to the powers that be, from legislators and regulators to business people. Hundreds of thousands have created their own petitions to fight for issues in their communities.

Others have realized the power online petitions have to reach decision-makers and facilitate change. Even President Barack Obama gets it: His administration created “We the People,” a government owned and sponsored petition platform, in 2011.

Here are five reasons online petitions are crucial to sharing your message and creating advocacy impact:

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AARP: Baby Boomers Want Liveable Communities, Too

Leon Kaye | Wednesday November 5th, 2014 | 0 Comments
AARP, Livable Communities, smart cities, urban planning, millennials, Walkable and Liveable Cities Institute, Leon Kaye, senior citizens, bicycling, form based code, road diets

Welcome to AARP, the Smart Cities Advocacy Group.

If we are to believe much of what we see in the press, millennials will have to make a more sustainable world to get us out of the mess that the baby boomers are leaving behind. But such generalities may not be necessarily true. Even AARP, which has paid plenty of attention to the baby boomer vs. millennials conflict, has made the case that its membership is concerned about the same issues with which the younger generation is often preoccupied. For example, one may not intuitively think of AARP as a locus of information on smart cities and better urban planning. This powerful lobbying group, however, has an impressive archive that inspires its members to advocate for more “liveable communities.”

AARP’s Walkable and Liveable Cities Institute should not be much of a surprise. As one approaches retirement age, the idea of living in an isolated exurb, where walking, cycling and public transports are the exception and not the rule, is less appealing. And with kids out of the house, denser communities and compact homes close to shops and services are becoming more desirable. Pedestrian-friendly streets and bicycle lanes are not only safer, but also allow citizens of all ages to save money and, of course, live sustainably.

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Series RE-Launch: Sustainable Apparel Part II Debuts Tomorrow!

| Tuesday November 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments


Loyal readers will remember the tremendously successful series Sustainably Attired we ran this summer to explore the lifecycle of fashion. We’re thrilled to announce that Levi Strauss & Co., a longtime proponent of sustainability in the supply chain, has returned for another round. Of course, the company’s environmental programs aren’t limited to supporting our editorial efforts. In fact, just today the denim giant announced a new partnership with the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corp. to provide financial incentives for garment suppliers in developing countries to upgrade environmental, health, safety and labor standards.

We’ll launch part II of this series tomorrow with a focus on consumers: We’ll examine how purchasing and clothing care choices affect the overall environmental impact of our clothes. Since we’re heading into the holiday season, we’ll also dedicate plenty of attention to purchases you can feel good about gifting. You’ll hear about Levi’s initiatives, as well as those from other leaders in the space.

Tomorrow we’ll kick off with a piece that examines what happens at the end of a consumer’s time with a garment. If it’s donated, what happens next? What happens to the clothes too worn to wear? Are our hand-me-downs finding a second life in our communities, or are they shipped to a far-away country?

If you have themes you’d like us to explore, let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Orangeadnan, Flickr

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BSR Conference 2014 Livestream Video

| Tuesday November 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments

The TriplePundit team is at BSR 2014 this year in New York and the line up is better than ever. If you can’t make it this year in person, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. All plenaries and most other major speakers will be broadcast below. Just bookmark this page and hit play!

For complete coverage of the BSR Conference 2014, visit

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Engage and Excel: How Corporate Responsibility Improves the Bottom Line

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Employee Engagement photo

By Shannon Schuyler

Employee engagement tops many CEO agendas — not surprising, considering a more engaged workforce means better work quality and longer tenure. These benefits directly impact the bottom line, increasing productivity and efficiency and fueling innovation. Employees most committed to their organizations put in 57 percent more effort on the job and are 87 percent less likely to resign than their disengaged counterparts, according to the Corporate Executive Board.

Despite CEOs’ widespread agreement that employee engagement is highly desirable, many companies don’t deploy all available resources to foster it. Too frequently, employee engagement is siloed as a human resources (HR) function, limited to areas like professional development and compensation. Although HR has an important role to play, other crucial levers, such as corporate responsibility (CR), exist for achieving sustained employee engagement. Further emphasizing this tie-in between CR and employee engagement, a recent survey by CECP, a coalition of CEOs focused on societal investment, revealed 36 percent of CEOs said employee support would make the biggest impact on a company’s decision to expand its investment in the community.

At PwC, we recently moved beyond the usual documentation of CR efforts by measuring the employee engagement return on our CR investment. After assessing the level of CR commitment among our more than 39,000 U.S. partners and staff, we triangulated this data with performance reviews, retention and productivity. We further analyzed the results by examining market, practice area and staff class.

Generally, we found that as the level of CR activity rose, so did performance and length of tenure. Moreover, the greater employees’ CR engagement, the more likely they were to be high performers. Fifty-five percent of employees with one CR activity were high performers, with an average tenure of 6.7 years. Among employees with two or more CR activities, 60 percent were high performers, with an average tenure of 7.4 years.

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Shell Seeks 5 More Years for Arctic Drilling

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday November 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments

shell_mainimage.375263553Despite spending eight years and $6 billion — with no oil production to show for its efforts — Royal Dutch Shell is asking the U.S. government for another five years to drill in the Arctic.

Earlier this year, Shell sent a letter to the Department of the Interior and its Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), requesting that its Arctic leases — which expire in 2017 — be paused for five years while the company regroups and attempts to restart drilling operations. The letter was made public late last month by the environmental group Oceana, after obtaining it through a Freedom of Information Act request. Oceana and other groups have sued to block the Arctic exploration.

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Numi Tea Brings Fair Trade to Madagascan Turmeric Farmers

Fair Trade USA | Tuesday November 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is part of a series on “The Future of Fair Trade,” written with the support of Fair Trade USA. A 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, Fair Trade USA is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. To follow along with the rest of the series, click here.

TurmericFieldsOfGold_IngredientsBy Brian Durkee of Numi Organic Tea

A member of the ginger family, turmeric has caught the attention of wellness practitioners and health enthusiasts for centuries. Given its culinary versatility and medicinal properties (not to mention its vibrant color!), it’s no wonder that we are seeing the root become a mainstay of diets around the world. People are turning to turmeric, and we are excited to do the same.

With its innumerable health benefits, we knew that we wanted to incorporate turmeric into a brand new tea collection at Numi Tea. We wanted tastes that would complement the earthy/robust flavor of the root; we wanted profiles that would mirror the vibrancy of the spice; we wanted a tea collection that highlighted the wonder of turmeric. And, perhaps most importantly, we wanted our new tea line to be on-par with the sustainable practices that are the foundation of all of our blends. All in all, we wanted to utilize a turmeric that was Fair Trade Certified.

One year ago today, however, there was a very limited supply of Fair Trade Certified turmeric on the market. We found ourselves faced with two options: develop a line of turmeric teas that were not certified Fair Trade, or help an existing turmeric farm become certified. As you can probably imagine, the second option won our hearts.

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Oceana Report Claims Fraud Rampant in Shrimp Industry

Leon Kaye | Tuesday November 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Shrimp, shrimp industry, oceana, fraud, Leon Kaye, farmed shrimp, mislabeling, whiteleg shrimp, sustainable seafood, human rights

Oceana claims the shrimp industry is rife with fraud-will consumers care?

Shrimp is one of the more popular proteins in the U.S., eaten by plenty of folk who otherwise would never get close to a fish or mollusk. But the shrimp industry has been dogged by a bevy of problems, from reports of rampant slave labor to the pollution generated by shrimp farms across the world. Now the ocean conservation advocacy group Oceana alleges that the industry is duping consumers on the type of shrimp, along with the sourcing, of the products they are buying.

The report focused on shrimp purchased in a few areas within the United States. Oceana claims the misrepresentation of labels is an ongoing problem within the shrimp industry, and insists companies must do more to disclose what kind of shrimp is within a package or on a restaurant plate, and state where it is from. By testing dozens of products in New York City, Portland, Washington D.C., and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, Oceana has arrived to several conclusions, none of which will thrill consumers, even if buying sustainably is not a priority for them.

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Climate Change: Sell the Sizzle

3p Conferences
| Tuesday November 4th, 2014 | 2 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 1.27.16 AMBy Felicity Carus

The day before the Sustainable Brands 2014 conference in London opened, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its first major report since 2007. At 1,552 pages long, the Synthesis Report is indigestible to all but the most die-hard climate activist, policy wonk or scientist. But its central message boils down to this: We must quit fossil fuels altogether by 2100 or face catastrophe.

This is not news people want to hear; not even sustainability professionals who have flown in from Hong Kong or Israel want to hear it. So, how can we expect the man or woman zooming past the Lancaster Hotel next to Hyde Park to get out of their cars and onto the bus, particularly when it’s raining in London?

The fact is that climate catastrophe is not even news at all. Sure, the world is a different place since the last IPCC report came out in 2007: The U.S. has a climate-changing president; the financial crisis took a chunk of money out of everyone’s pocket; and the momentum for action at the Copenhagen in 2009 has run out of steam despite the frenetic pace of adoption for solar and wind.

But the storytellers — the journalists, the brand strategists and sustainability marketers in this particular sustainability narrative – have failed to connect consumers enough to inspire engagement with this crisis on any significant scale to make a real impact.

Today’s workshop led by Daianna Karaian, senior brand strategist at Futerra, examined effective storytelling because “the connection with brands and consumers was often broken.”

“We look at our customers through market research or reams of data – that’s massively important, but at the end of the day it’s even more important to remember that our customers are real people, just like us.”

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Is ‘Connect a Million Minds’ Improving STEM Skills?

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 4th, 2014 | 2 Comments

TWC at STEAM Carnival

By Phil Preston

In an increasingly technical world, there is a shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills in the workforce. I asked Time Warner Cable’s VP of Community Investment, Milinda Martin, about the impact of their flagship Connect a Million Minds program.

In a recent announcement, Symantec committed to engaging one million students in STEM skills by 2020. Time Warner Cable has been on this path since 2009. It saw the lack of STEM skills as a constraining factor on its future workforce and decided to look for win-win outcomes.

Phil Preston: The Connect a Million Minds initiative appears to work on many levels. It is framed as a philanthropic project, however it also has elements of shared value because, indirectly, you are improving your future workforce, the competitiveness of American industry and your own business prosperity. Can you tell us how the focus on STEM skill development came about?

Milinda Martin: We selected STEM for a variety of reasons, and you have hit on one in your introduction: We need STEM-educated workers for our industry. We know that the U.S. is not training enough students in these skills to the point where there is a gap between open positions and skilled workers taking them — not just in cable, but in all STEM-dependent industries. However, that was just one reason why we chose Connect a Million Minds as our philanthropic platform.

We also want to positively impact communities, and we know that STEM jobs are high paying and can lift a family out of poverty. We feel that financially stable communities not only are better for the individuals that live in them, but also for the businesses that provide services to them.

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Watch Out for That Cliff: The Urgency of Driving Sustainability in Business

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Thought leaders discuss the future of sustainability in the HP Living Progress Exchange at SXSW Eco 2014.

Chris Librie (center) and thought leaders discuss the future of sustainability in the HP Living Progress Exchange at SXSW Eco 2014.

By Chris Librie

Picture Indiana Jones in the blockbuster film “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” He’s galloping on a white stallion in hot pursuit of a convoy transporting the lost Ark. In true action-hero style, Jones leaps from the horse and drops himself inside the truck carrying the artifact. Eventually, Jones takes control of the truck. As the convoy continues down the winding jungle road, a car pulls up alongside — its occupants intent on taking out our hero. The two vehicles barrel toward a sharp S-curve. In the final second, Jones makes a sharp turn, narrowly avoiding the cliff. The second car and its passengers are shown falling to their demise.

What does this adrenaline-charged scene from the popular action film have to do with sustainability?

“We must have a sense of urgency,” said Brad Tomm, senior manager of campus operations and sustainability at Zappos. “We cannot merely slow down. We must steer completely away from the cliff.”

Tomm shared this analogy during a HP Living Progress Exchange (LPX) discussion forum at the recent SXSW Eco conference in Austin, Texas. The LPX, hosted by HP and moderated by GlobeScan, brings together sustainability experts and opinion leaders to learn from each other, inspire fresh thinking and share best practices. In addition to Zappos, I was joined in one of two LPX sessions by leaders from ZipCar, Conservation International, Adobe, The North Face, National Audubon Society, Chicago Botanic Garden and SolarCity.

And this week, HP is hosting two more LPX sessions at Sustainable Brands London, as well as launching an ongoing global online discussion — open to everyone — on the Convetit Think Tank.

It’s not that we spend a lot of time discussing 1980s adventure films in our HP Living Progress Exchange, but Tomm’s analogy is a good one.

We, as a society, are barreling full-steam ahead toward a future that can’t sustain us.

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